water change or all the way substrate change ? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
water change or all the way substrate change ?

as some (possibly many) have seen i've been doing very little for tank maintenance.

i'm curious about some things though.

i know i'm getting antsy about needing a large water change, ... and i'm wondering/thinking. (as i know i want a different substrate as well)

how difficult is it to change the substrate (going with removing the fish)... and changing to a dirt substrate.

i don't have a lot of fish (and temporarily could use a smaller container for them)


if i completely redo the substrate, how long could i expect to wait for things to get healthy enough again for the tank to handle the fish i removed ?

no other cleaning (just remove all the old & add new substrate)
-i have lots of sponge filters that are probably loaded with good bacteria

i could guess a regular period of waiting for cycling to take place, ... but that temporary home for 4-6 weeks, i'm not that patient by choice
otherwise test kits to wait for nitrogen cycle to complete ?

optimally a second tank to use, but i don't have that option at the moment.
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 12:04 PM
my guess is that it would be like setting up a new tank.

but then I've never done a complete substrate change.

my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 12:43 PM
You shouldn't have another cycle if you change the substrate. There isn't much BB in the substrate. Although there is some, your filters have much more and should compensate no problem.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 01:31 PM
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water change or all the way substrate change ?

Whether or not you will experience a minicyle from swapping the substrate depends on your filtration system. There is a ton of surface area with the substrate - room for a large bacteria colony. Some people feel that there is a larger colony in the substrate, others say it's larger in the filter. I suspect that both opinions are correct.

In my own experience, I have swapped substrates without any problems. However, my filtration a systems are quite large.

If you have a filter on the tank than you won't be starting over.

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
nice :), thanks
as soon as i figure out if i'm moving or not soon i'll adjust that for the tank :)
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-04-2014, 01:18 AM
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If you're planning on doing a soil tank, I assume you'll have lots of plants?

Fast-growing plants (like the stem 'bunch plants' commonly available) will absorb excess toxins like ammonia.

I say swap to soil, plant, and add fish immediately. Just make sure you dont let the filter media dry out. (I believe you said they were sponge- just leave them running in the buckets\container with the fish while you remodel their house.)

I have guides in my sig for soil setup, but I now prefer a topsoil or clay-enriched soil substrate rather than the bagged peat/compost mix I used in my guides.

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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post #7 of 9 Old 04-04-2014, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
Redchigh, do you have a ratio of topsoil:clay you'd recommend ?

clay i'm kinda set on montmorillonite (raw)

High CEC (next to vermiculite), cheap clumping cat litter with natural mineral clay (or whatever they call it) as the sole ingredient

i wish i could find more information out about CEC, one source has me wondering if a high CEC ability can compete with plants for nutrients :( (here's my hesitation)

i haven't been able to find any information on if the clay baked (arcillite) changes it's CEC at all

Last edited by Flear; 04-04-2014 at 07:32 AM.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-04-2014, 11:35 AM
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Yay! A question I can answer!

Forgive the lack of technical talk. >.>

Baked clay is slightly more stable. Unfired cat litter turns to mush. I actually use a product called oil-dri from Walmart in the automotive department. Its fired, and attractive if it ends up above the cap.

High CEC substrates do 'pull' nutrients into it, and bacterial activity adjacent to plant roots can free up the nutrients. High CEC substrates can also cause a pH shift fro. Absorbing Ca and Mg from the water.

I buy the oil dry, and add it to a bucket.
I mix a gallon of basic fertiliser (I use just miracle grow, mixed at 2x reccomended strength) and pour it over the dry oil-dri.
I'll stir it a bit with my hand, then when the fizzing sound stops, I add enough used aquarium water to cover (when I do a water change).

I stir it, and let it soak for a couple days.

After that, I wash it until the water runs relatively clear, and add it.
The exact amount of clay varies and depends on the soil its being mixed with.
I have a theory that with soil, the bacteria is just as important as the nutrients, so I usually use half and half, or 1/3 clay and 2/3 soil.

When I plan on using a lot of stem plants, I use more soil. The clay is a bit too lightweight to keep thin stems down well.

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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post #9 of 9 Old 04-04-2014, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
a gallon of fertilizer to how much oil-dry ?
(i assume you're using liquid fertilizer)

that's another theory i had about mixing fertilizers directly to the clay (increase nutrients right in the substrate that way) but without knowing more it was just as likely a recipe for disaster. (maybe it's because i would prefer dry ferts if i could get away with it- makes it more scary to do this blind though)

i am thinking of heavily organic soil (as what i am coming across this also adds a lot of AEC - to retain the other half of desired nutrients in the substrate)


that all has me thinking, ... time to look at numbers again.
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